Stan the River Man, Honeysuckle Warrior of the Licking River Greenway

Meet a Greenspace Licking River Greenway

Stan Nassano, retired firefighter turned self-taught environmental conservationist, has spent the past 10+ years restoring the Licking River Greenway in Covington, Kentucky. Stan will be leading the Meet a Greenspace Hike on Friday, July 12, 2024 at the Licking River Greenway, and you’re invited!

By Kelly Morton,

Published July 3, 2024

Meet a Greenspace Licking River Greenway
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Stan Nassano, retired firefighter turned self-taught environmental conservationist, has spent the past 10+ years restoring the Licking River Greenway in Covington, Kentucky. His dedication to the area has led to improved health and accessibility of the river bottom. Stan will be leading the Meet a Greenspace Hike on Friday, July 12, 2024 at the Licking River Greenway, and you’re invited! Learn more and RSVP for the free event here

Clearing the Path

In the early 2000s, a group called Vision Quest 2015 devised a plan to create a trail system throughout Northern Kentucky. The trail would travel throughout the region connecting river towns and communities, and provide access to recreation spaces for residents of the region. Due to Covington’s location and expansive riverfront presence, Vision Quest chose it to be the first community to undergo riverfront revitalization for a trail system. 

Stan Nassano joined Vision Quest as a Trail Steward in 2010. After retiring from the Covington Fire Department a few years prior, he had the time to dedicate to the never-ending removal and eradication of invasive species, such as honeysuckle, that had overtaken greenspaces in the region. He and other Trail Steward volunteers embarked on the task of extracting the ornamental plant-turned-foliage nuisance from along the Licking River Greenway. When their work began, it was nearly impossible to see the river from the bank due to the overgrowth. 

The Trail Stewards continued to meet monthly, slowly making their way through the jungle of honeysuckle, poison ivy, and dead trees towards the river. Their work was so impactful, that they were given the Honeysuckle Warrior award due to their efforts. 

Leaving a Mark

As the river bottom cleared, Stan realized how much he enjoyed not only hanging out in the Greenway but also restoring it, and he began to wonder what might happen if he were to give back to Greenway instead of only clearing it of invasives. It was this idea that led him to plant 120 nursery-stock Swamp Oak seedlings. After this initial planting, he acquired more saplings to reintroduce to the area – eventually planting over 2,000 trees within the Greenway. 

Around 2015, he realized that the shoreline was disappearing due to erosion. During this time, he switched from solely planting seedlings to shoreline stabilization. He began to focus on planting river cane and native plants along the shoreline and riverbank to reduce erosion. The plantings have been successful in strengthening riverbank soils and slopes. 

Kenton County Public Works now oversees maintenance of the area, but Stan still stops by to visit the trees he’s planted.

Exploring the Greenway

Interested in exploring this greenspace?  Join Stan and Green Umbrella’s Greenspace Alliance on a guided hike along the Licking River Greenway on Friday, July 12th from 3 – 4:30 p.m.  We will meet at the Clayton Meyer Park entrance (1710 Glenway Ave., Covington, KY 41011).  Street parking is available in addition to a newly paved parking lot south of Rizzo’s Painting. 


This hike is a part of our Meet a Greenspace Hiking series.  We hope that these hikes will provide those who join in the time and space they need to reconnect with nature.  If you have any questions, contact Green Umbrella’s Greenspace Alliance Manager Claire Carlson at [email protected].

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